National Pet Dental Month
February is National Pet Dental Month. When dealing with our furry family members, it can be easy to forget one of the most important aspects of their health: their teeth! With progression of dental disease, the effects are not limited to the mouth. At-home dental care and routine dental evaluations and care at your veterinarian can aid in the prevention of dental disease in your pet.
There are various options available for at-home dental care for pets. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily with a pet-approved toothpaste and toothbrush is one option. This helps in removing the plaque that forms on their teeth at the gumline and aids in the prevention of calculus formation. Dental treats or prescription dental diets are another option. These treats or diets may contain an antiseptic, such as chlorhexidine, that helps to form a barrier on the tooth to decrease the rate at which plaque and calculus forms. They are also typically formulated to provide an abrasive surface for the pet to chew against and “scrap” the tooth. Other dental home care options include at-home oral rinses or gels, and water additives.
A dental evaluation should also be performed yearly on each pet. This is typically done at the time of their yearly examination. Your veterinarian will make recommendations for continued at-home dental care and tell you if a dental scaling is warranted to address any accumulated calculus or problem teeth. A dental scaling is performed under general anesthesia to allow for better evaluation and cleaning below the gum line and for pain control if extractions are needed. Polishing of the teeth is performed at the end of the procedure and a fluoride treatment may be applied. If extractions are performed, oral sutures may be placed to close the defect and will dissolve over time.
Left unaddressed, dental disease can progress to periodontal disease, where the structures that hold the tooth into place become affected. Dental infections can seed bacteria to the liver, kidneys, or heart resulting in potential serious illness. Small breed dogs tend to be more severely affected by dental disease than large breed dogs due to their small mouths and crowded teeth; however, all dogs and cats will benefit from routine dental care. Call today to schedule a free dental evaluation by one of our veterinarians for your furry family member. (407) 366-4486.